3 Day Sahara Desert Trip | September, 2017
Riding out into the desert on camels as the sun set across the dunes was well worth the hours of driving it required. Friends had recommended a tour company — Marrakech Desert Trips — so I did little research for alternatives and we were very happy with the trip and service. If we were to go again with a different budget, we’d likely upgrade a little, as the accommodation was extremely simple and rustic, but the staff and transport were very professional and safe.
The tour company picked us up near our Riad early on the first day of the tour. We were driven to a meeting point where we moved into a van with a group of about 10 others doing a similar tour to us. Many in the group would return to Marrakech, but we had opted to be driven to Fes on the final day. The van was comfortable, which was great because we spent a ton of time in it. Since we went with our friends recommendation and going to the Sahara felt like something we had to do while in Morocco I hadn’t done a ton of research, which ended up being a good thing. I’m not sure I would have signed up if I knew we’d spend quite so much time driving, but I’m absolutely glad that we did.
Our first day we drove from Marrakech to the UNESCO world heritage Kasbah Ait Ben Haddou, which also served as a set for various Hollywood blockbusters. I had no idea how large the film industry was in Morocco, so large it has its own “Hollywood.” We continued to Ouarzazate and then to Dades Valley. The following day took us to Merzouga where we were loaded up on dromadaires and headed into the dunes. Riding a camel was much more exhilarating than I had imagined it to be, as they lift their rear legs your body jolts forward with intense momentum - I was sure I was going to fly off every time I got on. On the edges of certain dunes it felt like they would easily loose footing, but their flexible feet expanded like playdough with each step providing stability in the loose, hot sand. The ride was a little over an hour, and it was dark when we arrived. There are many companies that run these types of tours, so our small group of about 10 turned into close to 50 at the camp that was set up for us to sleep and eat. The night time temperature was mild, and many chose to drag their mattresses out into the sand to sleep under the stars. After dinner, and some music around the fire we retired in our little “tent” - which was essentially a mattress on the sand with a few blankets pinned up around it.
We were up before the sun the following morning, and quickly joined the line of camels heading back as the sun rose. Breakfast was waiting for us at the end of the ride, after a quick meal we loaded back up for a long day of driving back to Fes. Since most of the group was headed back to Marrakech Dan and I ended up with a private driver for our trip back, making the long drive a little more comfortable.